Covid: Plan to chop bottom of classroom doors off to help ventilation

The move is aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus and improving air flow.

Covid: Plan to chop bottom of classroom doors off to help ventilation iStock

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been made available for the bottom of classroom doors to be chopped off in a bid to improve ventilation.

A sum of £300,000 is being set out by the Scottish Government so that around 2000 doors can be “undercut to increase air flow”.

The move is aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus and improve air flow.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, Shirley-Anne Somerville, the country’s education secretary, set out a number of measures in order to tackle the issue.

She told MSPs that about 2000 doors in schools and nurseries across Scotland have been deemed as having “problematic ventilation”.

The Government expects to spend around £4.3m on the measures – which also include £1.6m on air filters and £2.4m on mechanical fans.

Somerville explained the costs, to be borne by an additional £5m allocated for capital spending in schools, “will vary significantly in practice”.

“Based on informal local authority feedback, we expect that relatively only a very small number of learning, teaching or play spaces will have persistently high CO2 levels,” the education secretary’s letter states.

“Scottish Government guidance, based on the current weight of expert advice, is that the primary focus of mitigating activity should be on regular CO2 monitoring and associated remedial actions to improve ventilation (i.e. the introduction of fresh air into spaces).

“Where this cannot be readily achieved, and CO2 readings remain high, air cleaning/filtration devices may exceptionally be used as a temporary mitigation to reduce risks in problematic spaces while more sustainable, ventilation-based solutions are implemented.

“The informal local authority feedback indicated that around 2-4% of spaces have so far fallen into that problematic category, equalling around 2000 spaces out of 50,000 learning, teaching and play spaces across all local authority school and ELC settings.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats education spokesman Willie Rennie called on Somerville to find “proper solutions” to the ventilation problems highlighted.

“Rather than putting an air filter in every classroom, the education secretary’s solution is sending a handyman round to chop up classroom doors,” he said.

“We are two years into the pandemic and three terms into this school year, but only now has the Scottish Government admitted there is a problem in thousands of classrooms. Yet this could only be the tip of the iceberg.

“We heard that Edinburgh Council found seven out of nine schools surveyed fell below air quality standards. The Government should publish the evidence from councils so we can judge the true scale of the problem.”

Rennie continued: “Opening windows in winter and chopping up doors is an insult to the thousands of teachers and pupils who deserve a better solution to the problems of ventilation.

“Air filters could play a long-term solution with cutting the spread of other infections and improving conditions for good learning.

“The education secretary should take ventilation more seriously and pick up the pace on finding proper solutions.”

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